Monday, August 29, 2016

The 5 Most Recent Adds to My Goodreads TBR

The Wolf Road 

My next book coming from Blogging for Books (it's actually kind of late...maybe should email them....)


 I loved loved loved Company of Liars, so I hope I at least love this one!


I don't know if I'll actually read this one or not if I'm being honest....sometimes that happens on the TBR


 Creepy sounding short stories? Yes, please.


And the next pick for Jamie's Quarterly Classics Club!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book Review: "When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again" by William Heffernan

I'm going to level with you guys - I don't really do murder mysteries so I'm not sure why this book ended up on my TBR but a departure from what you usually read is good sometimes right?

Basically, three young men leave their home in Jerusalem's Landing, Vermont to fight in the Civil War. One doesn't come back at all, one comes back physically maimed and one comes back personally changed (basically, he was already a bit of an asshole and now he's  a big, huge, cruel asshole). Our main person is Jubel, who is the one who comes back with one less arm than he left home with. He's a deputy with his dad the sheriff (or constable or something) and he has to investigate a murder. So the book flashes between the current timeline (the murder), the timeline where the three boys were fighting in the army together (where something super scandalous happens and they talk about it the whole book without actually saying what it is) and a timeline of when they were younger (oh look what scamps those kids are!).

There's also a love story, because of course there is.

Really there's nothing wrong with this book if you're looking for a historical fiction murder mystery. But there were two things that bothered me about this book.

1) There were two female characters (one a main character, one more peripheral) and they were hardly given any character development. One was like a "so perfect on a pedestal" and then one was "gold digger hussy". Felt like there wasn't a whole lot of work put into the female characters.

2) The whole point of this book is solving this murder and talking about this salacious thing that happened when the boys were in the army. They hard and harp on them both and when it comes to the big reveal of both they each get like, half a page. It's so brushed aside it was like the author didn't actually think about how to wrap it up after talking so much about it. It was a little annoying.

Anyway, I gave it a 2 star but if you are a frequent murder mystery reader or like things set in the Civil War (that was the best written timeline, I thought) you still might want to pick this one up. 


Monday, August 22, 2016

In celebration of Ray Bradbury....

Today, Ray Bradbury would have been 96 years old.

I always have a lot to say about Ray Bradbury (Love him! He's a wordsmith! He's a national treasure! I cried at my desk at work when I found out he had died!) But today I will just leave you with one of my favorite of his silly quotes.

“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.” Ray Bradbury,:  

Thanks for everything Ray. XOXO.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Book review: "The Hidden Letters of Velta B." by Gina Ochsner

After reading this books description I thought I had a pretty good idea of what would happen. I was wrong, as usual. What I couldn't have counted on was the lovely writing that this author used to tell this interesting (though sometimes confusing) story.

This book is set in Latvia, and I learned all kinds interesting folklore and traditions. My buddy at Myths and Legends podcast could fill some episodes with those Latvian yarns. Like, you're supposed to sweep the path behind everyone after a funeral so the dead persons spirit won't follow anyone home. And that gypsies give the gift of a down pillow at a funeral.

It's basically the story of a small town and a family who loves there. It's set in about the 90s but it feels pretty timeless. There's: ghosts, unplanned pregnancies, Baptists who must have a piano on a certain side of the worship hall, a small town that needs an economic boost, a mad (but friendly) scientist, a swindler uncle who is still a little lovable until he turns totally loathsome, grief, lost love and cows in flotation jackets.


Here's one of my favorite snippets of the book (and an example of the authors lovely style):

You tell me  that at the root of the word mirror is miracle or wonder. I have always believed in miracles. I credit your grandfather for this unshakable belief that the inexplicable, unbiddable, and wholly wonderful does and can occur. And I believe in blessings. You cannot be wondrously healed if you haven't first been terribly wounded.

I liked a lot of this book, though sometimes it was kind of hard to follow. And who I thought would really be the star of this book was really just being told the story like the reader is, but that's my own suppositions. I'll give it a 3.65.

Monday, August 15, 2016

New member of the family at the Hoffmann household!

So, here's a fun fact about me. I've wanted a dog since, basically the minute Josh and I got married and had our own apartment. But we lived in a cat only apartment and so I had to wait.....for 8 years. And Josh had never had a pet when he was little and was apprehensive on several fronts.

But we recently added a new member to the Hoffmann ....and her name is Queenie! (Or Queen B or Queenie Beanie or Queenie Dog or Ninja Queenie or whatever)

She's a four year old Shar pei who we got through Shar pei Savers, a midwest based Shar Pei rescue. So much thanks go to them and her foster mom Kathy who worked tirelessly with Queenie to get her to the great dog she is today.

She is 4 years old, so well behaved, and adorable. But I'm biased! I love her little hippo face. She's hard to get good pictures of because she's all black, but I will have her all over social media all the time. So I will have to be a better photographer.

Supervising Dad assembling something for the house....

A favorite nap spot, behind the chair...

Family photo where you can only see her blue/black tongue!

Amazing how fast it went from "No dogs on the furniture" to "Only when invited up, dogs on the furniture" to "Dogs on the furniture but they can't use the pillows or blankets". 


Friday, August 12, 2016

Rapid Fire Mini Reviews #10

The Successor by Ismail Kadare- The first 2/3rds of this book zipped along and made a fair amount of sense. But then the last 1/3rd. Really not so much. If you can hang for the last 1/3, you will get an interesting peak into scary dictatorships and Albanian history, which is probably not something that most people have experience with! 

 The Property by Rutu Modan - A story about a woman and her grandmother who leave Israel to come and try to reclaim the apartment that was stolen from the grandmother's family during WWII. Well, that's what the daughter thinks they are doing. A surprisingly interesting graphic novel, considering it talks about property law a fair amount!

The Light in Ruins by Chris Bohjalian - I feel like you always know kind of what you're going to get with a book by Bohjalian but the serial killer aspect of if made it feel unique and different.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - I'm so glad that I read this. It provided a really interesting and refreshing view point. Also, a good reminder to be grateful for the things that we have.Though, at it's heart - a love story.

The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Kim Barker- This is the book that the Tina Fey movie "Whisky Tango Foxtrot" was based on. I really liked it, it was funny and interesting and a little depressing and a good look at how incredibly complicated things are in the Middle East. It's pretty close to the movie, I think they just merged a couple of peripheral characters. I highly recommend both the book and the movie.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

School Library Update

Hi blogger friendos, I've got a question and I am hoping that you can point me in the correct direction.

The school that is connected to my church is looking to beef up their school library. They already have one but it's pretty dated. 

Does anyone know of any places to get grants to get library books? Or places to solicit donations? The books don't need to be religious in nature, just appropriate for a library in a K-8 school.

Any leads that you can pass along would be great! Thanks all!